Friday, December 14, 2007

Thursday 27th May 1937

Pinned on my bedroom wall is a map of Essex. A boundary line is marked in the south east. It is the boundary of what I call “Area A”, ie. My present business territory. The line runs along the wrong side of the River Crouch, beyond Wickford in the north and Laindon, Horndon and Stanford in the west. South and east the line follows the coast. According to an order copy which arrived this week, I also have Billericay, which actually lies just across the “A” border, beyond Laindon. Went to Billericay today, to give the place the “once over”. Took a summer return ticket and a cycle ticket. In this way I can work the same district in the reverse direction anytime within a month.

Sunny day. The train puffed slowly through green fields speckled with yellow buttercups; through green woods with carpets of bluebells. Green – yellow – blue patches of real countryside; not many houses. “A lovely district to travel”, thought one part of me. “Not a very good territory” thought the other part. “Too thinly populated and rural.” It was a pleasant moment when I walked out of Billericay station into sunshine and enquired the way to the main street. Starting at zero, with possibilities ahead!

Made some rapid introductory calls. Seemed a promising town, fairly good class. Cup of tea and report writing at lunchtime, in a small shop. A golden haired girl served there and later gave me the low down of the district with the aid of my ordnance survey map. A Scots builder gave an order for U/coat Paste soon afterwards. Doubtless my tartan tie was an asset. Yes, I like Billericay. The people seemed helpful and friendly; passers by sometimes turned to call, “Good day!”

Cycled happily along the easy down grade to Laindon, little knowing I was destined to take no more orders that day. At Hayden’s yard I again met a quaint, untidy individual named Phillips. We had a cup of tea together (he mashed it in a cup and used some ancient condensed milk which he addressed by its Latin name – feminine gender I believe). Next an enjoyable, stormy interview with Carey, the principle Laindon merchant. Managed to placate him eventually – after showing him my report sheets and being carefully indiscreet.

Then a haircut. The barber was a soothing man, with a pleasant flow of conversation. Must go there again! Climbed into Laindon Hills for two fruitless calls. 4:30p.m. Tea for 9d at a typical hikers café. Afterwards, to Horndon. I took a short cut over the brow of Langdon Hills – a track thro’ some woods. Saw a baby snake writhing on the path, like an oversized worm. Calls at Fobbing, Gun Hill, Horndon and Thundersley. After the last call I had a second tea – bacon, egg and tea at a café on Bread and Cheese Hill. Home 9 o’clock. Seventeen reported calls in a twelve hour day.

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